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life Inside issue 1

The transforming power of education

Plus: Hope for page 4 Syrian children Child poverty‌ page 10 in Oxford? Krish Kandiah on page 15 fostering and adoption

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Every year, thousands of children in Nepal are trafficked. Cynically targeting poor households, traffickers offer the tantalising hope of a regular income to struggling families and then sell children into bonded labour or sexual slavery. Viva’s partner network CarNet Nepal has a track record in alerting local communities to these risks and rescuing children from abuse. Together we want to: ■ Help mothers set up small businesses and generate an income for their families ■ Get children back into school, keeping them safe from risk ■ Spread the anti-trafficking message more widely to local people ■ Give rescued children shelter and trauma counselling ■ Share expertise from this programme with other partner networks around the world

Make a gift by cheque or online at and your gift will be matched by a small group of generous Viva supporters. Anything you give will inspire lasting change in the lives of children in Nepal. Thank you. 2

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EDITORIAL As a young girl I used to go on long walks with my grandfather. He would buy me a bag of sweets and talk to me about a thousand things – faraway lands, scientific discoveries and significant events that took place centuries ago. He was an educator by profession; he loved to learn, and then to share it. Doing some ‘Who do you think you are?’-style research recently we discovered that on his wedding day my grandfather’s grandfather marked his marriage certificate with an ‘X’. So in the space of two generations my family went from illiteracy to an infectious love of education. Not only is education valuable in its own right, it also helps people break out of the poverty cycle. A sobering fact, which may be less well known, is that in some countries like Nepal, school also has an important role to play in keeping children safe during the day, away from the threat of traffickers. As you can see opposite, we’re launching a Christmas match appeal to combat the trafficking and abuse of Nepalese children – more details are available at

Joanna Mitchell Fundraising Manager In this first issue of Viva’s new ‘life’ magazine, you can also read how Kezia M’Clelland is working with churches in Lebanon which are helping to provide schooling for Syrian refugee children (page 4). Closer to home, Katharine Thompson shares what has motivated her to address the needs of children in Oxford (page 10), and Hilary Wilce shares five tips for helping children to thrive at school (page 12). There is so much need, but also a great deal that can be achieved when people work together. The actions we choose to take can re-write the future. By giving children the gift of education they have power to change their future, and that of their communities for generations to come.

PS WIN THE NEW QUENTIN BLAKE BOOK Email me at to let me know what you think of our new-look magazine and you could win a copy of The Five of Us by Quentin Blake, published by Tate Publishing – a tale of adventure, friendship and teamwork, and a celebration of diversity in children. 3

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There are 600,000 Syrian refugee children in Lebanon

CHILDREN AND CONFLICT – BEHIND THE HEADLINES The media can paint a heart-breakingly bleak picture of children affected by war. But there is hope. Viva’s Kezia M’Clelland describes her work with Lebanese Christians as they reach out to Syrian refugee children and families, and why she believes a more positive story needs telling. The news over the last few months has been filled with painful accounts of the huge impact that conflict has on the lives of children. We saw the number of children killed in Gaza rise to over 500,1 heard that 50,000 children could die from malnutrition this year as a result of violence in South Sudan,2 watched as thousands of children became refugees in northern Iraq, and learnt that more than 2 million children in the Central African Republic are caught up in conflict and in urgent need of protection and aid.3 Perhaps we donate to charity, pray, or share a story on social media, but it can seem more and more difficult to feel that anything we do can make a difference in these desperate situations.

As we commemorate the First World War 100 years ago, it’s clear that the days of wars fought between nations by armies on clearly defined battlegrounds are a thing of the past.Today, violence often takes place within countries and across borders, with little distinction between soldiers and civilians. Children are caught up in violence and can be killed and injured, used as soldiers, subjected to sexual violence, separated from family members, kidnapped or tortured. In addition to physical harm, the experience of living through instability or witnessing violence can have a lasting psychological impact. While children in many parts of the world are living in difficult circumstances, children in fragile and conflict-affected states are more likely to live in poverty, miss out on education, and lack access to basic healthcare.4


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IDENTIFYING SAFE PLACES A HEART FOR CHILDREN Now well into its fourth year, the Syrian conflict has caused 6.5 million people to be displaced inside Syria, and more than 3 million to flee the country. 1.2 million refugees, half of them children, have registered across the border in Lebanon.5 For six months, I worked with Viva and Food for the Hungry to support the work of the Lebanese Society for Educational and Social Development (LSESD) with Syrian families. The stories people told me were disturbing and heart-breaking. I heard about children in Syria being recruited to fight, being injured or killed by shelling or sniper fire, girls being kidnapped, and children arriving at displacement camps alone. Many schools and hospitals have been damaged and destroyed, and families struggle to find enough food. In Lebanon too, while families may have escaped from the direct threat of gunfire and shelling, children remain at risk. In a poor area of Beirut, I met a six-year-old girl called Nada who shyly presented me with a beautiful rose from the bunch she was holding. Nada’s mother explained that her husband has been unable to find work in Lebanon, and so instead of going to school, Nada goes out alone every day to sell flowers on the street. When I spoke with a group of children about the crowded area of Beirut they live in, they failed to identify any safe public place to play, saying that, “there is lots of trouble – people fight, using weapons and knives”. Children in the Bekaa Valley, where a large number of refugees live in informal tented settlements, spoke longingly of the full lives they left behind, with one teenage girl telling me, “I have Syria in my heart – we are all missing Syria”. Many parents are too exhausted by the struggle of daily life to provide the support that children are seeking.

Hearing these difficult stories over and over again would have been overwhelming if there hadn’t been another, very different and less often-told story being written at the same time. LSESD is partnering with 18 churches and faith-based organisations in Lebanon, as well as two networks of churches inside Syria, to provide displaced families with food and other support. As I met with these Christians who are freely giving their already stretched time and resources to support people who have historically been considered their ‘enemy’, I was more and more amazed by what God is doing in and through them in this situation. One church has started a primary school reaching 200 children who were out of school; others organise regular children’s activities and each clearly demonstrated a heart for helping children. However, most were feeling out of their depth in the face of the huge needs children faced. I worked with LSESD to organise training to help them think through how they could better target their programmes to meet the needs of children, and how to put policies and procedures in place to keep children safe. It also provided an opportunity for partners to meet together, share their experiences and encourage one another. Viva’s strengths in working with smaller Christian organisations and churches meant that we were able to design and deliver relevant training which had a significant impact; participants were excited to talk about new programmes for children that they might create, and were quick to recognise the risks children faced and how policies and procedures could help to address these. Most participants said that this was their first time to receive this kind of training and could see ways that they would put it into practice straight away.

Kezia M’Clelland visits a family in their makeshift shelter 5

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THE STRENGTH OF THE CHURCH In today’s world, our attention is quickly drawn from one crisis to the next. The media and our attention spans seem able only to focus on one situation at a time. Whether Syria is currently making headline news or not, the situation for the children caught up in the conflict is unchanged. Churches were already there before the conflict and they will stay, long after international attention fades. Currently, much of the support given for children in emergencies is directed to larger international NGOs, but they are not always succeeding in reaching the most vulnerable children in the way that smaller, local churches and organisations can do.6

children in the most difficult circumstances. With conflict and natural disasters having an increasing impact on children,Viva is well placed to play an important part in developing the Christian response through local organisations to support children in emergencies.

By supporting these churches and organisations, we make a permanent investment in equipping local communities to make a difference for

Kezia M’Clelland is Research and Programme Development Officer of Viva Africa, and worked in Lebanon for six months in 2014.

I am grateful for the opportunity to have witnessed and played a small part in the story of hope which God is writing in the midst of darkness and despair, and I’m looking forward to seeing where God will take us next as we seek to bring Viva’s experience to help more of the world’s most vulnerable children. 2 3 4 World Bank (2011), World Development Report 2011: Conflict, Security and Development 5 6 Healy and Tiller, Where is Everyone? Responding to Emergencies in the most difficult Places (Médicins Sans Frontières, July 2014) 1

All photos © Food for the Hungry / Angela Howard


Enjoying a lighter moment amongst the darkness and despair

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The World Weekend of Prayer (WWP) is an annual prayer event which brings together Christians from across the world, who learn about the power of prayer and how God changes the situation for children as a result. This year, tens of thousands of Christians worldwide prayed for vulnerable children on 7-8 June around the theme of ‘childfriendly communities’. In Costa Rica’s capital city, San Jose, just under half of the 25 churches who participated are not yet members of the Viva partner network. In total, 2,000 people across the country prayed, including 1,300 children and the event inspired 100 church leaders to consider the needs of children. Pastor Gilbert Barrantes organised Renacer Church to collect and distribute food in the homes of the poorest families in the community.

“We recognise that prayer is also to act, so we believe that our work begins with prayer and continues with action,” he said. In Mwanza, Tanzania’s second biggest city, almost 50,000 Christians, two-thirds of whom are under 18 years old, in over 25 churches, took part in the WWP. Together, children raised their voices to God through prayers, drama, sports and songs. One woman, Mama Rachel, was so moved by praying that she has

Praying for child-friendly communities to become a reality in the Philippines

now become a volunteer childcare worker at her church. In Hong Kong, over 2,000 children and adults across various churches joined others in prayer. “We have seen churches and communities not only lifting up and praying for local children, but also seeking to learn more about and pray for children around the world,” says Lucy, from Viva Hong Kong. WWP prayer bookmarks were produced for the first time and Bea Petty, a children’s intern at St Aldates Church, Oxford said, “The bookmarks were great for the children to take home and a great way to encourage them to pray for children around the world.” Proof indeed that no matter the age, background or mother tongue, anyone can turn to God in prayer, confident that he listens, answers and acts.

SAVE THE DATE Join us for the

World Weekend of Prayer next year on 6-7 June 2015. More details nearer the time at 7

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ŠPatricia Andrews 8

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A co-ordinated Christian response to the needs of children and vulnerable families in Oxfordshire Oxford is famous for its dreaming spires and renowned university. However, scratch below the surface and you’ll discover one in five children growing up in poverty and a city living in the shadow of last year’s Bullfinch trial which saw seven members of a prolific undercover sex grooming ring imprisoned for abusing six girls over an eight-year period. In response, Viva has been challenged to explore how it can use its overseas experience to inspire

lasting change for vulnerable children in the city where its UK office is situated. Katy Thompson is spearheading our Doorsteps initiative, which has included a comprehensive research project and day conference. Andrew Dubock, Viva Communications Manager, spoke with Katy about what has motivated her personally, and Viva as an organisation, to take action in Oxfordshire.


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Andrew: What is Doorsteps all about? Katy: After nearly 20 years of focusing on the needs of children overseas we’ve become aware of what seem to be increasing needs of children in our own context. Local churches have asked how we could help them. It’s real for us: the girls groomed and trafficked in the high-profile Bullfinch case were abused within a few hundred metres of Viva’s office – and about the same distance from my house. We’ve started just as Viva starts anywhere in the world – mapping the needs of local children, finding out what the Church is already doing, and considering how any gaps could be better addressed through a collaborative response. A: Why do you personally feel called to it? K: One of my touchstone verses has been from The Message version of Matthew 11, where Jesus says, “Go back and tell John what’s going on: the blind see, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the wretched of the earth learn that God is on their side.” ‘Wretched’ can sum up how people on the margins feel and my prayer is that they would come to know that God is on their side. The moral fabric of our society is weak; there’s a real need for people to experience God’s loving family. A: What trends are you seeing from the research? K: There is a lot coming out around low self-esteem and I think that’s at the heart of our culture – people not knowing who they are or that they belong and are valued as God’s beloved, created in his image. I’m seeing the importance of young people having a significant adult in their lives and the need for good role models and mentors. A: What does poverty look like in Oxford? K: The rise in the use of foodbanks and children going to school hungry are obvious signs but there are many hidden aspects of poverty and much of that is around how people make choices. Many families around the city might have a big flat-screen TV, but they don’t have sufficient resources for the family to be a safe place for children to grow up. A: How did the Oxford Doorsteps Conference go in September? K: It was a collaborative event between Viva and a dozen other partners. They are locally known and have expertise in different areas – including fostering and adoption, safeguarding, youth activities and theological reflection – so there was plenty for people to engage with. It was brilliant to see the breadth of people represented. I enjoyed watching the buzz of over 70 people sharing experiences and making connections, and having a real commitment to joint working. Our hope is that we can put something tangible and lasting together from this momentum that will ultimately help change the situation for children in Oxfordshire.


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© US Dept for Education



A good quality, well-rounded education is of crucial importance to a child’s development – it forms the foundation to many Viva programmes across the world. However, it shouldn’t be just down to teachers; parents have a role too, as Hilary Wilce explains. How do we go about creating a climate that makes children want to learn? From the thousands of hours I’ve spent in schools, I know that parents have more power than anyone to motivate their children to study, but that they can’t force school success by helicoptering around over every detail of their child’s life. Instead, they need to provide the kind of secure, thoughtful, encouraging environment at home, from which children can go out and forge their own successful way through school and beyond. Yet although this sounds simple, it’s not that easy to pull off. Here are five practical ways to help your child do well at school. 1. Teach the magic word ‘yet’ As in, “I haven’t yet learned how to tie my shoelaces.” Or “I haven’t yet understood electromagnetic induction”. Seeing learning as an optimistic, positive process boosts success. 2. Move bedtime forward Canadian teachers report more restlessness, volatility and frustration in 7- to 11-year-olds who get half an hour less sleep than their classmates. US researchers have found that high-school students who achieve lower grades get 25 minutes less sleep than students getting A and B grades. Sleep is vital. It processes learning and regulates health.


3. Read together According to UK researchers, children who read for pleasure make more progress in maths, vocabulary and spelling between the ages of 10

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and 16 than those who rarely read, and reading for pleasure is more important than either wealth or social class when it comes to doing well in school. 4. Learn something yourself This means you are modelling what enjoyable, rewarding learning looks like. Also model how difficulties in learning can be overcome with cheerful fortitude! 5. Do nothing If your child acts up in class or fails to do their homework, let them take the consequences. Experiencing the results of actions is essential to good learning. Shielding your child from every bump in the school road will produce a passive, dependent learner. Hilary Wilce is a former education columnist with The Independent, and a personal development coach. Her latest book is The Six Secrets of School Success. @HilaryWilce This is an abridged version of the article, ‘How to help your child do well at school’, published in The Independent on 25 June 2014, and reprinted here with Hilary’s permission.


What works with your children? Email us at with your reflections on this article.

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A good teacher’s influence can reach beyond our childhood to help form our opinions and values as an adult.

A selection of Viva staff around the world tell us which teachers they still remember and why. Joel, Network Consultant in Bolivia Mr Julio Trejos. He was full of fun and wanted to help make our dreams come true. He said “Dreaming is free, but efforts must be made to fulfil the dreams”.

Martin, Head of Mobilisation Mrs Bartalutzi. She read ‘Where the Rainbow Ends’ to the class over a whole term, a story which I never forgot and gave me my passion for telling stories.

Lucy, Viva Hong Kong Mrs Styles. She taught all the things I loved and she was cool – a great role model. I won the Religious Studies’ prize that year – whereas previously I hadn’t thought myself to be very academic.

John, Network Development volunteer (UK) Mr Railton. He only had one arm after an operation, but still involved us all in fine choral music with specially adapted piano pedals. He always had time for me in lunch breaks.

Justine, Network Consultant in the Philippines and Cambodia Mrs Beukes. She was kind, encouraging and used innovative ways of teaching. By the end of my year with her I was reading fluently.

Mim Friday, Network Consultant in Uganda Mr Law. He gave me a one-on-one mentoring session that included kind but firm discipline and turned me from a lazy to a hard-working student.

Cian, Finance and Office Manager (UK) Mr Davis. He was passionate about numbers and logic, and inspired my life-long love of maths. He gave up his own time to teach a group of us an extra GCSE as he wanted us to achieve our full potential.

Mark, CEO Mr Selley. He was fair, had a very dry sense of humour and let me get away with late homework for a term whilst doing the school play! 13

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Education can transform a child’s future. These three Viva programmes provide children with an opportunity to get back into school and make their dreams for the future a reality.


Poverty, abuse and cultural practices are preventing a third of Zimbabwean girls from attending primary school. VNZ, Viva’s partner network in Zimbabwe is inspiring churches to reach out to children from Harare’s slums. Specialised Learning Support Centres, have been set up in five local churches. Offering targeted educational support, they are seeing children grow not only in attainment but also confidence as they are made to feel valued.

Around half of children in Nepal drop out of school before reaching the lower secondary level. This exposes them to abuse and to being trafficked and sexually exploited.


In partnership with local churches, Viva’s partner network CarNet Nepal aims to inspire parents about the benefits of school, to protect children from harm and to strengthen families. Child development centres help children with homework, meals and recreation.


Less than 20 per cent of Ugandan girls make it to secondary school. Seen as a lower priority than their brothers, their education is often cut short. Viva’s partner network in Uganda, CRANE, has set up twenty innovative Creative Learning Centres with enthusiastic and energetic staff. More than 4,000 girls who have dropped out of school are restarting their education, with an emphasis on numeracy, literacy and vocational skills.

Visit to help children get back to school 14

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He had had eight homes by the time he was three years old. He had been passed around from one family to another. When the social workers got involved, the only piece of information that his prospective foster carers were told about him was that he was ‘a biter.’ My family were those carers, and you can imagine the questions that were going through our minds when we received the emergency call. Something clicked inside me as we reflected on the situation this little boy was facing.

The Home for Good initiative has been running for two years now, and has recently been founded as a charity in its own right. We have been approached by scores of local authorities who are keen to work with local churches.

‘Biter’ is an insufficient description of any person. There is more to all of us than the worst thing we have ever done. We are all made in the image of God and worthy of love, respect and compassion. We welcomed this little boy, and he turned our lives upside down in the best ways possible.

We have been encouraged by a groundswell of Christians and churches who are wanting to put fostering and adoption front and centre as part of the church’s compassionate response to children in need.

Where you live there are hundreds of children in care. Many of them have been separated from their brothers and sisters, or are travelling a long way to get to school because there are not enough foster carers to cope with the demand of unprecedented numbers of children coming into the care system. Many of the children coming into care are going to be available for adoption, but sadly most adopters are going to consider them unadoptable because they are older (over 3+ years old), in sibling groups, and many have additional needs.

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We are delighted to be working with Viva in Oxfordshire to map the church’s response to children in need, and how churches can be further encouraged to engage in foster and adoptive care. Please visit for more information on how you and your church can be involved in a movement that is seeking to change the culture of adoption and fostering; and find every child that needs one a home for good. Krish Kandiah is President of London School of Theology, and Founder and Director of Home for Good.


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Local government officials in Cochabamba, Bolivia have boldly stated that there are no new street children in their city – thanks in part to the influence of Viva’s Early Encounter programme.

By uniting projects and organisations with expert local knowledge and a wide variety of competencies, Early Encounter both rescues children already living on the streets and protects many more at risk of ending up there.

Yerko Areralo, Viva’s Network Consultant for Bolivia, says, “These children are the leaders of tomorrow – they will make Cochabamba a better city and Bolivia will be a different country because these lives have been changed through the work of Early Encounter.” Early Encounter is funded through a significant partnership with Toybox.

Viva, Unit 8,The Gallery, 54 Marston Street, Oxford, OX4 1LF t: 01865 811660

FACEBOOK.COM/VIVATOGETHERFORCHILDREN Mixed Sources Product group from well-managed forests, controlled sources and recycled wood or fibre. Cert No. SA-COC-09174



Viva is an operating name of Viva Network. Viva Network is a company limited by guarantee no. 3162776, registered charity no.1053389, and registered in England at Unit 8, The Gallery, 54 Marston Street, Oxford, OX4 1LF,

Front cover: main photo © Patricia Andrews; inset photo © John Cairns

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Life magazine 1 (UK version)  

Viva's new-look magazine focuses on the transforming power of education, plus hope for Syrian children, child poverty in Oxford and Krish Ka...

Life magazine 1 (UK version)  

Viva's new-look magazine focuses on the transforming power of education, plus hope for Syrian children, child poverty in Oxford and Krish Ka...